My name is Phuong Huynh; I was a 43-year-old working mom, as a research scientist, who thought, “I am very blessed and happy”. My sister recently commented to me, “Your life is pretty posh”. And I remember thinking… she is right! I have a happy marriage of 21 years and two wonderful daughters, 18 and 13. I am a lucky lady!
That was before September 15, 2017. On that day, my world turned upside down and inside out. I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. My husband held me and we cried. LUNG CANCER!!!??? How could this be?? I have never smoked a single cigarette. I live a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Why me? What did I do to deserve this disease? I was first angry, then sad, and lastly devastated. For two weeks, I couldn’t sleep or eat. I was weak and tired. I felt like my body was wasting away by the day as I waited for my first appointment with the oncologist. I had pain radiating from my head to my arms and fingers. My mind wanted to trace every pain, every irregular breath and heartbeat back to this cancer that I now know is growing inside of me. These were the thoughts constantly running through my head as I underwent five sessions of radiation for my brain, followed with targeted chemotherapy for the EGFR mutation.
To start healing, I need to mend my mental health. I seek counselling to learn to manage mentally day to day. I learned how to accept and live with the disease. Yes, I will die one day, that day could be months or years (I pray it is many, many, many years) from now. That day will come if I cry or smile all the way there. I chose to smile, to ease the pain for myself and my love ones. I slowly ease back to a new normal. I established a new regular exercise routine, change my diet to be mostly plant basde and discover my new faith. I remind myself of this quote by Maya Angelou that I saw at the YMCA every day, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. I seek for survivors in my community. In my search for other survivors, I found the Lung Cancer Initiative. Thanks to the Lung Cancer Initiative, I connected with other survivors who are so supportive and give me great hope in this journey. I also became more involved with activities and events that educate and help survivors living with this scary disease. This journey would be so much more difficult without our community support. I joined the LUNGe Forward 5K because I want to participate and contribute to help spread lung cancer awareness and advocate for LCI.
With GOD’s blessing and my medical team, I am stable as of my last scan. I pray and thank you GOD for each day. I am going to stay positive and believe my body can heal.